April 23rd, 2013
2012 is the year the netbook died. Netbooks are, or were, mini laptops with a footprint similar to that of a tablet. But unlike tablets, netbooks can run either Windows or Linux operating systems and have numerous ports for SD cards, HDMI cables, and USB peripherals. I bought my first netbook, an ASUS Eee PC, around 2006. It was cheap and it ran Windows XP. I needed a MIDI capable device for sequencing, and the ASUS was a perfect fit since I could balance it on top of a keyboard. Even with a lower end processor, I was still able to use the ASUS to record multi-track audio. But late last year, my netbook finally gave out after years of use and abuse. Many keys had been ripped out by my cats and the battery was providing poor performance. I guess I’ve been out of the loop a bit on consumer electronics, because I was surprised to discover there were few options for replacing my ASUS. Up until late last year, there were only two manufacturers left making netbooks: ASUS and Acer. Few retailers stocked netbooks in early 2013, but I was able to find a new Acer for pretty cheap after a long online search.
The only real advantage netbooks had going into 2012 was price, but that quickly changed as manufacturers started to offer traditional laptops at netbook prices. I suppose I’m one of the few people out there who prized the small form factor of netbooks and didn’t mind the tiny keyboard and display. For me, the only portable device that might work as a netbook replacement would a tablet running Windows 8. Something like the HP Envy X2 might fit that bill, but it’s expensive and I’m not sure it has all the ports I would need. Of course there is the Chromebook, but all of my music apps are Windows based, so that’s not an option. I’m hoping in a couple of year ultrabooks will come down in price since I’m sure my Acer will be used and abused by then.